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In re Marriage of Mayfield

Supreme Court of Illinois

May 23, 2013

In re MARRIAGE OF SHANNON MAYFIELD, Appellee,
v.
HOWARD R. MAYFIELD, Appellant.

JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

THEIS JUSTICE

¶ 1 Howard Mayfield appeals the decision of the appellate court, which affirmed the decision of the circuit court of Woodford County to award his ex-wife, Shannon Dykes, 20% of a lump-sum workers' compensation settlement as child support. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In 1995, Mayfield and Dykes married. They had two children: Zachary and Jessica. In 2003, Mayfield and Dykes divorced. Because Dykes was the custodial parent, the trial court ordered Mayfield to pay $158.50 per week in child support.

¶ 4 In 2004, Mayfield filed a petition to modify child support, asserting that he had been laid off and would apply for unemployment benefits. Dykes responded with a petition for rule to show cause, asserting that Mayfield was in arrears on child support. The trial court denied Mayfield's petition to modify, and granted Dykes' petition for rule to show cause. The trial court found that Mayfield was in arrears by $1, 580 and ordered him to pay an additional $32 per week in child support.

¶ 5 In 2009, Mayfield filed another petition to modify child support because Zachary began living with him. To reflect the new living arrangements, and the parties' respective child support obligations, the trial court ordered Mayfield to pay $37.57 per week in child support.

¶ 6 In 2011, Dykes filed a petition to modify child support because Zachary had reached the age of majority, ending her child support obligation to him. At a hearing on that petition, [1] Mayfield testified that, in 2007, he suffered a workplace injury and, in 2010, he received a lump-sum workers' compensation settlement of $300, 000, which was reduced to $239, 920 after deducting attorney fees and medical expenses. Under section 10.1 of the Workers' Compensation Act, the settlement agreement prorated the lump sum over Mayfield's life expectancy. See 820 ILCS 305/10.1 (West 2010). The settlement agreement stated, "It is the parties['] intent and agreement that this shall constitute the equivalent of monthly payments for the duration of [Mayfield's] life expectancy of 34 years which comes out to $580.30 per month." The agreement further stated that Mayfield's average weekly income before the injury was $969.60, and that he was seeking employment that could accommodate his medical restrictions.

¶ 7 Apparently, Mayfield did not testify about the injury or his restrictions, but he did testify that he spent most of the settlement by paying off his home mortgage and a $9, 000 loan, buying hunting property for $44, 000 and a motorcycle for $10, 000, taking a $5, 000 Florida vacation, and extensively remodeling his home. Mayfield's financial affidavit showed that he owned three cars free of liens; a money market account with $31, 204.36; $20, 000 of furniture and appliances in his home; and $3, 000 of jewelry and furs. Mayfield admitted that he did not notify Dykes of his workers' compensation claim or his settlement.

¶ 8 Dykes testified that Jessica was 14 years old and needed support, but that Zachary had reached the age of majority. Dykes further testified that after Mayfield's injury, he was unemployed, which caused a significant reduction in child support.

¶ 9 Pursuant to a request, Dykes' attorney mailed to the trial court copies of, inter alia, In re Marriage of Dodds, 222 Ill.App.3d 99 (1991), and In re Marriage of Schacht, 343 Ill.App.3d 348 (2003), which held that lump-sum workers' compensation settlements were income for purposes of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act's child support provisions. Mayfield then filed a memorandum in opposition to Dykes' petition to modify. In that memorandum, Mayfield attempted to distinguish those cases because the issues there did not involve apportionment of a workers' compensation settlement. Mayfield argued:

"Where the child is a teenager, and where clearly the award is to compensate for limited monthly payments over the life expectancy of the workman's compensation petitioner, it would be manifestly unfair to award a 20% portion of the entire settlement, to the former spouse. Such an award would grant the former spouse child support, in this case, effectively, for 25 years after the child has reached her majority."
Mayfield asked the trial court to order child support from the settlement "based upon the weekly amount upon which it was calculated." According to Mayfield, his child support should be $116.06 per month, or 20% of the prorated monthly amount of the ...

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